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3 sentimental DIY gifts for friends & family

CMS 120A Capstone Project

Fri, Dec 2nd 2022 12:30 pm

By Ashley Judd

Special to Niagara Frontier Publications

Looking for special gift ideas for birthdays, holidays, etc. and like to craft? These three ideas are perfect to try out!

It's hard finding the best gift for friends and family, especially when trying to make it memorable and special. Homemade gifts are a good way to go in this case. They are more personalized and unique to the recipient and lets them know you are thinking of them. In this case “It's the thought that counts,” truly applies.

In a survey conducted by CreditDonkey, it was found that over half the population (52%) wants to receive a homemade present. In another survey of 2,000 Americans, conducted by OnePoll, 66% of people said they are much more likely to remember homemade gifts over store-bought ones and that 55% of the population keeps homemade or handmade gifts considerably longer than generic ones.

What are the benefits of giving homemade gifts?

  • They are personal and unique
  • They make the recipient feel special
  • It is more meaningful
  • They are a way to express love and appreciation
  • It can help improve your creativity and skill

A memory blanket by Patti Kubanek: A homemade quilt using a person’s or loved one’s clothing, and stitched together.



One of the three gifts one can make is a homemade quilt. You can use different materials, but for the memory quilt, clothing or graphic T-shirts will do. The process typically takes about 15 to 20 hours to complete per quilt.

This quilt is a good gift for newborns, a loved family member who passed away or high school graduates, but is definitely not limited to those options! This is a great gift to give to someone special and can shed some light on a person's day.

The materials needed are a sewing machine (unless one wanted to hand stitch), needle and thread or embroidery floss, fleece and the clothing of choice.

How to make the quilt:

  1. Cut out a square of clothing or graphic tee
  2. Iron a stabilizing fabric onto the back of the clothing
  3. Measure and cut and then lay out clothing on the floor or table in a pleasing design
  4. Sew squares together column by column and then row by row
  5. Once the top is put together, add fleece to the back
  6. Cut fleece to same size as quilt
  7. Sew good sides together and leave one foot open on one side
  8. Turn quilt right side out
  9. Sew opening shut
  10. Sew a finishing stitch a half inch from the edge around the perimeter
  11. Use matching-colored floss, and apply ties at each inner square joint to keep front and back together
  12. Blanket is done!

“I’m not going to lie if it is for someone who has passed away, I am extremely anxious, as it is very personal and sentimental to the client. In the end, I truly shed a tear because they are very pleased!” said Patti Kubanek, a woman who often makes memory quilts for family and clients.

A personalized shirt by Bethany Hare: Iron-on vinyl using the Cricut Space Program to design and a heat press to iron the design onto the shirt or desired clothing.



The second item is personalized shirts or clothing. Iron-on designs can be put on T-shirts, hoodies or sweatpants, and can be used on many different materials. These are a good idea for someone who has special events coming up or as a good holiday gift. The process typically takes between 10 minutes and an hour for each shirt depending on the design.

To make this gift, one will need or can use: the Cricut Design Space program on a phone or laptop, the Cricut vinyl cutting machine, vinyl print sheets and a heat press.

Bethany Hare makes special shirts for her kids and family for different occasions or events, and has a quick and easy way of making them which will be in detail below.

How to make personalized clothing:

  1. Use the Cricut Space program to create desired design and print out using vinyl sheets
  2. Use the vinyl cutting machine to cut design out of vinyl
  3. Cut any pieces of vinyl not wanted in the design
  4. Adhere vinyl onto fabric using a heat press
  5. Done!

“I make shirts for my kids for different holidays and their birthdays. It makes them feel special that they have a unique personalized shirt for their big day,” Hare said.

A painting by Julia Koller, a smaller-scale render of the movie “Tangled” using a black marker and acrylic paint for a loved one.



For many, art is an expression or outlet for a memory or feeling. One can gift that memory or feeling to a loved one and show their appreciation and time for them in a homemade painting. Not to mention that you can find some art supplies for a low cost! The amount of time it takes to complete the painting will depend on what you are creating and using to paint, but for this painting it’ll take about a couple days to a week.

Julia Koller makes cute smaller scale paintings for friends and loved ones for gifts. She recommends using a reference photo, a canvas (optional size), acrylic paints and different sized brushes. There are many ways to go about painting, but these steps are easy to follow as a beginner. This is how Koller goes about her painting process.

How to create a painting:

  1. Find a reference photo for accuracy
  2. Sketch out the design on the canvas
  3. Pick out colors
  4. Put the colors on a on a palette or in holder nearby
  5. Paint sketches and let paint dry before putting more layers over it
  6. Let dry
  7. Outline with black marker if needed
  8. Painting is finished!

“I prefer to make gifts since they are more sentimental and meaningful because of the effort put in and the fact that I can custom make it for that person,” Koller said.

Homemade gifts are a perfect way to show appreciation and care for friends and family. There are many benefits to making them, as they can create a stronger bond with the recipient and improve crafting or art skills at the same time. These three DIY gifts can be used for most or any occasion. To reiterate, it is OK if the gifts don’t come out perfect, the time and thought is what counts overall.

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These articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of NFP, NU or the communication studies department. Moreover, every effort has been made to adhere to the principles of journalism, encourage the proper use of sources, and discourage anything that would constitute plagiarism.

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